Mary Shank, advisor for the National Honor Society chapter at Londonderry High School, has been working with Society members to raise money for Harbor Homes, which provides housing for homeless veterans. The students held a Dodge Ball tournament and raised $2,000, which a group of them recently presented to Harbor Homes officials.
“We are just amazed at the incredible generosity and imaginative fundraising efforts of your school,” said Peter Kelleher, president and chief executive officer of Harbor Homes. “Our veterans are so appreciative of your gifts to them. We are always in need, as our veteran population continues to grow. It’s so wonderful to receive such compassion from our young people and their teachers and families.”
The donations began, according to Roger Sampson, a Marine and the computer support specialist at Londonderry High, when students became involved with veterans after reading “Sunflower,” which takes place during the Holocaust, as previously reported by the Londonderry Times.
The students asked Sampson, as a veteran, if American veterans faced moral dilemmas, and he convened a panel of veterans for the students to question.
The veterans met with the students and when it was over, their teacher, Kelly Giguere, asked one of her students to design a thank you card. That transformed into something all her students, day and adult education, took part in.
Sampson delivered the thank you cards, 150 in total, to the veterans who attended the school’s Pay It Forward Club’s Veterans Day breakfast.
He presented additional cards to veterans at Dalianis House, one of the Harbor Homes facilities for homeless veterans in Nashua.
“The veterans were overwhelmed,” he said, noting that he was given a tour of the building and advised about the veterans’ needs. While they get food from a food bank, the homeless families need furnishings, bedding, silverware, dishes, pans, laundry soap, pillows, and staples like feminine hygiene and personal products.
Sampson said he decided to see what help he could procure from some of the LHS teachers.
“The faculty was so enthusiastic in their desire to help, and pretty soon donations were coming in from students, parents, teachers and staff,” he said. “The veterans were overwhelmed.”
Sampson said Shank told him Harbor Homes would be the Honor Society’s recipient of its fall fundraiser.
Sampson plans to bring more items to Harbor Homes in the spring.
When he was asked what Harbor Homes might do in return, he said, “Would it be possible to honor four of our fallen soldiers who graduated from Londonderry High School with Bricks of Honor?” Without hesitation, Kelleher assured them the four veterans would be so honored.
Donna Collins of Harbor Homes said the four soldiers would be honored with bricks engraved with their names and placed in a Wall of Honor at Dalianis House. The four are: Lance Cpl. Peter Sora, Class of 2002, who died during a training accident; PFC Eric Currier, Class of 2006, who was killed in Afghanistan in 2010; Air Force Lt. Peter Sohm, Class of 2006, who died in a plane crash near Goodfellow Air Base in Texas in 2011; and U.S. Army Cpl. Tyler Pimpis, Class of 2009, who was killed in a motorcycle crash in Killeen, Texas, last August.
“The outpouring of compassion and the desire to help from students and staff was incredible. This is really a special school with special people in it,” Sampson said.